We know how lucky we are

There is no doubt about it – 2020 has been a challenge.

And it started before COVID hit.

We sailed into January believing the worst was behind us. Our dog, Boo, had survived emergency surgery in December, emerging from a twisted stomach without her spleen but with all stomach tissue intact. It was pretty much a best case scenario. We celebrated Christmas and the New Year, certain we had more time with our older, but still puppy-like, dog. 

Then less than two months later, the rug was pulled out from under us and Boo threw a blood clot and despite emergency care, we lost her 24 hours later. After 10 years, we were suddenly coming home to an empty house. It was terrible. 

And then the world started shutting down.

Our last personal trip was the day after we lost Boo (planned trip to Chicago for the Hustle), and my last business trip was early March. Shortly after that, my choir concert was cancelled, and eventually, the rest of the season. We watched and waited to see what would happen with jobs, with family, with health. We hoped things would improve by August so we could take a planned trip to California, but soon realized there was no way. Our annual pre-holiday trip didn’t even get to the planning stages, knowing we were in this for the long haul.

Yet through it all, we know we are lucky. 

Neither of us lost our jobs and the work we do is easily done remotely. We have good health insurance. We have a house large enough to accommodate both of us working from home for the foreseeable future. We have the means and the know-how to order what we need online. We have remained healthy. Our extended family has remained healthy. The money we had set aside for our California trip was repurposed into long-overdue home improvements (along with everyone else in our neighborhood, apparently). We already had a home gym set up, for goodness’ sake. Overall, we are doing okay.

Every once in a while, one of us will comment on a story we’ve read or a segment on television we just saw, saying, “We have been really fortunate through all of this.” 

That doesn’t mean we don’t have bad days. We get frustrated, depressed, annoyed, and bored – just like everyone else. But we haven’t had to say good-bye to a loved one via Facetime, which puts it all in sharp perspective. 

For all of this, we are grateful. I won’t say we’re “blessed,” because to me that infers we are somehow special or ordained. No – we are flat out lucky. Yes, we follow health guidelines (masks and sanitizer on hand at all times), but lots of people who do that have gotten sick. Yes, we try to be thoughtful about our careers, but lots of people who do that were laid off through no fault of their own. We are simply benefitting from some cosmic lottery that allows us to weather this particular storm in relative security. And so, we are grateful.

There is no motive behind sharing this, other than to say – beware of attribution bias. Yes, we might try to make our own luck, but that saying, “Man plans and God laughs,” exists for a reason. People can do everything right and still struggle. And people can do everything wrong and succeed. You can be proud of your accomplishments AND acknowledge the element of chance that ensured the cards fell in your favor.

Final proof of our luck? We had been following an Akita breeder on Instagram for future consideration. Their dogs had similar personalities to Boo and we thought someday, they might be an option when the time came to consider a new dog. The day we lost Boo, a litter of puppies was born. We were able to put a deposit down, got our first pick of the puppies, and welcomed Baloo to our home the week before my birthday. He’s a doofus of a dog who tries our patience like only a 10-month-old puppy can. 

And we are so lucky to have him. 

It’s time to start writing for me again

Picture of a typewriter with the words "stories matter" on the paper.

It’s been eleven months since I last posted on this site. Kind of stretches the claim in my bio that I author a blog, ya know?

It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I contribute to HR Examiner, ERE.net, and other one-offs as requested. I also write for newsletters and posts for the place where I work. I enjoy writing for all these different places, I really do! But for anyone who has ever done prescribed writing, you know it’s just not the same as writing for yourself.

It’s not that I haven’t had ideas for this blog during the last eleven months. Apparently, I have 25 drafts of posts in various degrees of completion, and that doesn’t count all the random ideas I’ve had while watching television or listening to the radio, or just musing on the human condition.

I just haven’t felt like finishing any of the posts.

Part of it is all the other writing I’ve been doing. Sometimes the word tank just runs dry. Part of it is the fact I really like my work and maybe I didn’t need to write to feel heard (I will most likely unpack that in a future post). I also think a big part of it is, just….well, LOOK AT WHAT IS HAPPENING. We have a lot going on between COVID and the crazy person who was supposed to lead us through it. It just felt like there were more important things to deal with.

Our dog, Bamboo (also known as Boo), died unexpectedly in February. She threw a series of blood clots and we had to let her go. It was terrible. Then COVID hit, and all the things I find solace in (travel, choir, lunch with friends) had to shut down. Then there was the uncertainty about jobs and the economy. I mean…that’s a lot.

But things are starting to look up. We were fortunate to get another puppy soon after we lost Boo. (Baloo was born the day Boo died – I like to think that was divine intervention). The work I do is still important, desired, and incredibly fulfilling. And for the first time in four years, we will have an adult in the Oval Office. Hope springs eternal.

So I’m going to start writing more regularly again. I may dust off one of those 25 drafts and finish it up. Or I might just delete the lot and start anew. I may even change the name of this web site. Who knows?

I just know that I’ve still got opinions and I want to share them.

Pro Tips from a Terrible Job-Seeker

Recently, a friend of mine asked if I had any tips as she thought about her next role. She knew that I had been through a similar situation about a year ago and wanted to know what wisdom I had learned from the experience.

I also laugh a little to myself when I get these requests. I think it’s fun that people think I know what I’m doing as a job-seeker. As a recruiter, not a problem – I can give advice and suggestions all day long about how to recruit, as well as share what recruiters and hiring managers are thinking. It’s different when it’s personal. I often describe my career as “Forrest Gump-ing my way through life” because I wasn’t always the most thoughtful in my approach. I would work somewhere for awhile, decide it was time to leave, then find something else without a lot of planning. It typically worked out, but not always. And while I learned something from every job, I feel like I could have avoided some of the pain along the way if I had been smarter about it.

Thankfully, I was a LOT more thoughtful about my last move. As a result, I’m in a job I love doing incredibly interesting work with incredibly smart people. Finally.

So, to help you NOT be me, here are some of the tips I shared with my friend:

  1. Don’t search scared: If you still have a job while you’re searching, this is a little easier. If you don’t have a job, it can be hard to be patient and not panic about money. Hopefully you have a nice buffer and can feel okay taking the right amount of time to find what you want. This isn’t always possible, so if you need to take a contract position while you look for your permanent home, that’s okay.
  2. Know (generally) what you want: Just blindly looking for something that looks interesting is exhausting and makes it harder for people to help you network. There are some good free tools out there to help you narrow your focus. Or splurge for a session with a coach or super smart friend. Whatever you do, narrowing down your want list is necessary.
  3. Find like-minded people: I’m not talking culture fit. Find people who will appreciate you for YOU. I’m at the point in my career where I will not suffer fools for immediate coworkers, so I consider long and hard who I will be interacting with, whether I’ll learn anything from them, and whether they will get my sense of humor (and that list is shorter than you think).
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: As shared earlier, I suck at finding jobs for myself, but I love helping other people find jobs (I’m so weird like that). Chances are, you have an AMAZING network of people who love you and want to help you find your dream job. Use it.
  5. Treat Yo’Self!: Yes, you’ll want to be smart about money until you’ve got your next gig figured out, but don’t begrudge yourself a pedicure. Or a trip, if it’s booked. Or a hair appointment. Or that damn cup of fancy coffee. You still need to love you.

So there you have it. Hopefully this helps you as you contemplate that next job search. It’s not an exact science. Everyone’s search is a little different, so grant yourself a little grace along the way.

If you have any advice to share, please do! And good luck to those who are looking for their next job. We’ve got your back.